Written by: Daniel Waldron and Sanwar Ali Edited by: Sanwar Ali
UK Visa rules must be relaxed. Australia has told the UK to relax Tier 2 visa restrictions and Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence rules if it wants to strike a free trade deal post-Brexit. Australia’s high commissioner to the UK, Alexander Downer, said that Canberra – Australia’s capital city – would seek better access for business people operating in the UK before agreeing any post-Brexit deal.
Instead it seems the opposite is happening in the UK It is becoming more difficult and expensive to obtain a Tier 2 visa. From 6 April 2017 there will a new £1,000 a year immigration skills charge for most new Tier 2 visa skilled workers.
Australia has stated its readiness to reach an agreement with Britain and, following US President Donald Trump’s announcement that he will pursue an ‘America first’ strategy, casting doubt over any potential UK-US agreement, a deal with Australia is likely to take on more urgency.
However, Downer did say that preliminary talks over a possible deal had taken place. “There could be a deal in place within eight months,” he said. Meanwhile, UK Prime Minister, Theresa May said that she would instigate talks with New Zealand in the coming months in order to agree a trade deal.
In an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Downer said: “Access for Australian businesses has often been an integral part of the country’s free trade negotiations.”
“It might just make it a bit simpler actually. For example, an Australian company that invests in the UK might want to bring some of its executives to the UK. That can be done with what are called tier 2 visas, but maybe that could be made a little bit easier. I suspect they would be the only sort of changes you’d be looking at,” Downer added.
UK Visa Rules changes and Australia-UK agreement could happen soon after Brexit
Downer recommended that negotiations over Tier 2 visa arrangement should take place at the same time as agreeing a deal concerning the free movement of goods. In reference to how quickly Canberra struck a deal with Washington during George W Bush’ presidency, Downer said that an Australia-UK deal could be concluded swiftly following Brexit.
Mr Downer confirmed that the UK and Australia had been in discussions over what a free trade agreement could look like. He said: “Obviously, once the UK leaves the EU, it can negotiate free trade agreements but not before then.”
“However, we can pre-plan negotiations and we’ve presented a scoping paper to the British government to explain what we think the scope of a free trade agreement should look like.”
Current UK immigration rules dictate that Australians coming to the UK for the purposes of employment are required to obtain a Tier 2 visa, which grants them entry to Britain for a maximum of five years and 14 days.
People who qualify for a Tier 2 visa must already have a skilled job secured in the UK, a certificate of sponsorship from their employer and a minimum of £945 in savings. Australians are also required to prove that they will be earning a minimum salary of £25,000 or alternatively, the appropriate rate for the job role they’re undertaking.